July 29, 2011
One day, while I was out running errands my wife texted me that she was headed home from work. After hearing the message, I said, “Reply – Message, ‘G-g-great. I w-w-will see you soon.”
Before sending it, my phone repeated the message as, “’Grapes are in the room.’ Say ‘Send,’ ‘Cancel,’ or say your message.”
Society, in many ways, is making great advancements to help those with various challenges. While many of these are fantastic improvements, I wonder what can be done with the voice recognition software on my Android phone?
Vlingo is a voice recognition program that allows the user to control their smartphone by voice commands. As with everything else, this app has its limits – if the user stutters . . . well, you know.
There are times I remember I need to make a phone call or send a text while I am behind the wheel. Rather than handling my phone I will often just tell it what I want. Yet, my voice recognition software doesn’t always choose to cooperate. For example: when I receive a text or email Vlingo can tell me who it is from and will read it to me (LOVE it!). Then it will allow me to respond – by speaking my message, hence the issue – I stutter.
Once initiated, Vlingo lays “asleep” waiting for incoming messages or for me to “wake” her and tell her to do something. To wake Vlingo I have to say, “Hey Vlingo.” To which she replies, “What do you need Sweetheart?” (My phone loves me!) For me that wake command is not always that easy to say.
I am determined to use this wonderful software. Every time, through some intense facial contortions, I say, “He-he-hey Vlingo.” Sometimes however, it is a little fun. I enjoy watching the faces of the drivers headed my way as they see my face contorting wondering if I’m having a stroke, or something, behind the wheel. Ha! Have you ever laughed in the midst of a stutter? There’s proof for me that even stuttering can have its fun moments.
July 17, 2011
Many people find it interesting to see what others do for a living – especially those with certain challenges or “disabilities.” There are stutterers in various careers today. We are doing jobs such as customer service reps, firemen, nurses, singers, business owners, broadcasters and security officers.
So, what do YOU do? Allow me to tell everybody what you, as a person who stutters, do for a living. So, whether you collect trash or serve as a congressman, whether you consider your job special or not please, let me know what you do for a living.
Email me at SMRobinson59@gmail.com or leave a comment at the bottom of this blog entry.
July 1, 2011
The following blog was submitted by guest writer DaNietra Hall.
As a mother, you only want the best for your kids. But sometimes we think the best is whatever our idea of perfection is. I will be honest, my first child Justin, is a person who stutters, and I remember early on when I was raising him I had this idea of what I wanted him to be like. Subconsciously, I wanted him to be this ultimate awesome “reflection of me”. So when I noticed he was not “growing out” of his stuttering, I began to panic inside…because Lord forbid I have a stuttering child who will not be able to express himself properly and not live up to my idea of “perfection”.
As I began to pray about Justin’s speech, God began to deal with me, not Justin. He revealed that Justin’s speech issue is not a problem for Justin, but rather an issue to teach me some things about parenting and life in general. I had to learn that no matter what, my child was perfect just as he was and no matter what concerns or obstacles he may face in life, that it was never fair to force my idea of perfection on him and that whatever comes his way, does not de-value him or take away his self-worth. My child is and will always be worthy of my love and respect and just because he is a person who stutters does not change that.
I learned to be patient with my son and to allow him to have a “voice” at home. I knew that if he was ever going to be confident in life, then things will have to start at home, so everyone knows to allow Justin his speaking space. Patience was something I struggled with, but when
you have children, you get a quick lesson…lol! But with Justin’s stuttering, my lesson went even further. I learned not to dread the moments when it took him “forever” to get out what he needed to say, instead I owned the opportunity as his mom to be proud that I could give my son the “space” to feel free. As parents of children who stutter, we have the opportunity to turn “our” embarrassment or frustration into moments of monumental blessings by giving our children the liberated space to express themselves without defeat. I feel great knowing that Justin can come and talk to me without having the pressures and anxiety of feeling like I don’t want to hear what he has to say or that I feel like what he says doesn’t matter. Because that’s what parenting is all about, letting our children know that they matter and that they are loved. This also taught me a bigger lesson in life, which is, people need to be loved the way they need you to show it, not the way you want to show them. For example, if I carried on with my issues of frustration but kept telling my son I loved him, then what would he really believe…what I told him or what I showed him. Of course, even through my frustration I loved my son, that’s not even a question, but we have to be conscious of the actions we show our children as well, especially when it’s not a one-time incident. Stuttering is a part of his life so it’s not going away, therefore if I continued to be frustrated or get impatient with him when he talked, then that would be most of our interaction together and what child or person wants that? It simply goes back to the golden rule…treat others
how you would like to be treated.
I’d like to leave you with some mom tips for helping create a speaking space for your child who stutters:
- Build the Bridge: If you haven’t always created a space (allowing your child the freedom to take as long as it takes he/she to say what they need to say without finishing their sentences or showing signs of frustration), then tell them that you will. Let them know that you love them and that you are learning how to help them. Letting them know you
are interested in hearing them out, helps a whole bunch and telling them you are learning as well helps too.
- Take the Initiative: Don’t wait until your child has something to say to you to give them that space. Create candid conversations with them and ask them about their lives. You’ll be surprised that there’s way more elements to them and awesome things they have to offer the world besides stuttering. Plus when you initiate a conversation, this further confirms they matter in your life.
- Stop bringing up the “S” word: Okay, your child stutters…so what? Move on, you don’t have to keep bringing up the obvious. If you make it a big deal, then they will make it a big deal. But it’s really not a big deal! You don’t want to create an environment that will handicap your child just because he/she stutters. Stuttering is just something they do, it’s not who they are, so you don’t have to keep throwing it around.
- Protect your child: Create a safety zone for your child. For example, if you hear another child or person teasing or commenting unfavorably in regards to your child’s stuttering, then let it be known that you do NOT tolerate teasing or rude comments. Most people will automatically know based on how you deal with your child, but just in case they don’t, feel free to educate them on what is not accepted.
- Give your child the right tools: Having the right tools is key in any critical situation. Therefore make sure you and your child are educated on stuttering and are taking the proper steps to help him/her deal with their speech. Consulting a speech therapist is a start and linking up with a support group is great too. But most of all, the unconditional love you give to your child will give them the confidence to conquer the world.
I hope these quick tips help. As parents, we all want the best for our kids and sometimes whether your child stutters or not, it can be difficult to find a common ground to relate to them. Just know you’re not alone, but when your love overcomes your fears, then you can take one day at a time to nurture your child to be the best they were meant to be. And it’s never too late to start.
My son is an awesome person and I couldn’t be more proud to be his mom. Justin is a great student and athlete. He has the biggest heart and is a person anyone would want to know. If you want to learn more about Justin visit my blog at http://www.FairyGlamMother.com and click on the label “Justin” to read articles relating to him.
Thanks Mark for the invitation and allowing me this space to express myself. I’m forever grateful!
— DaNietra Hall is married to Harold and they have two beautiful children, Kendall Joy and Justin. Her son Justin is a person who stutters. Aside from bring a wife and a mom, she is a momtrepreneur (mom entrepreneur) who blogs, designs parties and does GLAM (Great Lives As Moms) Workshops. To learn more about DaNietra, you can visit her blog at www.FairyGlamMother.com.
June 27, 2011
I am a stutterer, and believe it or not, my speech causes me the occasional, shall we say — challenge. That’s right — my stuttering actually causes me problems now and then. There, I said it! (Whew! That’s a load off my chest.) Allow me to illustrate. . .
After a respectable time of mourning my late wife’s death, I went online to look for a pen-pal and met a wonderful lady. We corresponded online for a while then agreed to call. During none of the correspondence did I even think to mention that I stuttered. After all, why would I? Right?
As we spoke over the phone I had some minor issues with my speech, but still, I didn’t admit to my stutter. I thought, OK, I stutter, she’s obviously figured it out on her own. However, during this whole conversation, She is thinking, “Wow! This guy really is nervous!” In our second phone conversation I continued to stutter. This time she gently inquires, “Are you nervous?”
Clueless to the reason for the question, I simply answer, “No, I’m not nervous. Why?”
She explains, and I finally admit to her, “Oh no, that’s not nervousness – I stutter.”
A few months later, as I was trying to convince her to be my bride, we were traveling from Canada to the States. We had a great trip through the maritime provinces taking in beautiful scenery, friendly conversation, and a laugh or two. Then we arrived at the border.
The border guard, leaning through the window, asked us a couple of questions, then instructed me to park the car and come inside. I agreed. (Of course what else could I do?) I parked the car and told my lady I’d be right back – Ha! Ya, right!
A word of advice here – tell the border guards (or TSA) up front that you stutter. This is the voice of experience speaking. After a few minutes inside, all that was missing was the spotlight, cigarette smoke and M-16s! Questions were shot at me in rapid fire succession.
“What is your name? Why are you coming to the States? How long are you planning to stay? What do you do for a living? Why aren’t you answering my questions?”
Meanwhile, I’m still trying to get the answer out for the first question. “M-m-m-my nnnname is . . .”
“Why are you so nervous? What are you trying to hide? What do you have in those boxes in your car?”
Remember, the whole time I’m being interrogated by this seemingly impatient and suspicious border guard, my girlfriend is outside in the car wondering what she has gotten herself into.
When asked about my occupation, I told him I was a pastor. His thoughts were expressed loud and clear through his expression, “Right, you preach but you can’t put two words together without stuttering!” (Well boss, I’m not usually being intimidated while I’m behind the pulpit!) Without blinking he fired another shot, “OK, pastor, what is Psalm 22?” Did he really believe I could think clearly in the midst of this interrogation? I replied, “I don’t know. I’ve not memorized the whole Bible!”
A word of information to border guards – if you have a person who stutters, intimidation is not a good move. Answers will not come smoothly or quickly. It will only cause frustration for all involved. Voice of experience.
After a couple of hours, we were finally sent on our merry way. Guys – this is no way to begin a courtship.
One would think that after such an ordeal I would have learned my lesson. Not a chance. After only two years of marriage my wife and I drove my in-laws to the mid-west through Canada. However, that is a story for another time.
June 12, 2011
A sign of good emotional health is the ability to laugh at yourself. While stuttering is certainly a major trial at times, there are times when, if you look hard enough, you will be able to find the humour in many situations. If we can’t laugh at ourselves, I believe we will miss out on a lot of fun, and great rewards in life.
One thing I truly admire about my father-in-law, Al Rawson, is the fact that he always seems to find the funny in life. He will often see a seemingly ordinary event and start to laugh. When asked what is so funny, he would often have difficulty describing the event because of his laughter.
I realize that not everybody will find any humour in anything that has to do with stuttering, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that the humour is still there!
A couple examples for you;
1. I enjoy reading the jokes in the Reader’s Digest. I happened to be reading a copy one day and found a joke that struck me as quite funny. I naturally had to share it with a friend! So, I said, “You gotta read this! it’s great!” What did my friend say? “Can you read it to me?”
Really? As King George once said, “T-t-timing is not mmm-m-my strong point!”
2. One day, as a family member was rushing out the door, I said, “Oh, I just remembered something I need to tell you!” Granted, my timing was off and should have waited.
My loved one was rushed to meet an important appointment and said, “Can you tell me quick? I need to hurry!”
Really? Did you forget I stutter?
As I thought back on these and other instances I was tickled at the somewhat subtle humour.
The humour may be a simple misplaced word, or putting the mouth in motion before putting brain in gear! But, if you look hard enough you will eventually find it.
I am sure most stutterers have similar stories of their own. If you have a funny story involving stuttering, please post it here as a comment, the other readers and I would love to read it!
June 2, 2011
Hello, my name is Monica – otherwise known in the blog world as Okie Dokie.
I am a person who does stutter. I think I am a mild stutterer but you might want to check with those around me. I was not made aware of the fact that I stutter until my senior year of high school when the school counselor told me. I knew I spoke fast but I didn’t know I stuttered.
My fluency has been good and not so good for the past 25 years or so. Lack of sleep is a big trigger for me – no sleep no fluency.
I have a bit of a booming voice for being 5’1”, my father said my voice carried well – I talk all the time. I will voice my opinion whether asked or not. So I can tell you that stuttering has not kept me from expressing myself verbally especially when I need to speak up for what is right or wrong.
Where I do think I have short-changed myself is I have always taken the safe route in life. I picked a vague major and did minimum work to pass. I have never pushed myself on anything and I think it is because I struggle to speak and to act like I have it all together.
If I could go back in the “way back machine” of life I wish I would push myself more to find a field that I am passionate about instead of what is easy. I think I would have been a great attorney but that would have taken work and effort.
I do know that age is not always your enemy. As I have aged I am much more comfortable in my own skin. I like me for who I am and I have learned from the countless mistakes I have made. I try to learn to be a better person for each challenge I have encountered. I can laugh about the days when I am not fluent. I hope that I mentor those around me that do stutter because I know I learn from my NSA group each time we meet.
Why do I want to attend a NSA meeting?
I think about this question each time someone new visits.
I feel the group is like a family. We all have different views and vantage points on life. We are a diverse group and that make it work so well. I love to learn from others and about others. I like being in the safe family environment where everyone knows everyone stutters and no one cares. We laugh and we cry and we celebrate life.
Stuttering is not a bad thing:
– It gives you humility – and most of us could use some of that (myself included!).
– It gives us compassion – and everyone needs more of that.
– It gives us patience – another virtue.
– It makes you be in tune with yourself – to know what triggers your dysfluency. Plus you get to learn big words like dysfluency.
If you stutter, hang in there – no one has ever died from stuttering. If you love someone who stutters, keep loving them and hold them tight on days that are rough.
— Monica Malone is a person who stutters and the author of the “Okie-Dokie Weblog” where she offers general ramblings on life. She is married to Chip, her non-stuttering husband of 8 years. You will find a link to her blog in the Blogroll on the column to the right.
May 27, 2011
I have asked some friends to be guest contributors to this blog and today’s entry is from one of those friends. Unfortunately, this gentleman chose to be anonymous. I believe he expressed his heart well. I would like you to note that the author is not a stutterer, although he is married to one, so he writes from a different perspective than I can. I would like to have more such entries submitted from him and others like him. — Thank you Anonymous, you did a great job!
You May Be Listening to A New Great Friend!
Don’t interrupt someone who stutters, be patient with them. They are very smart and would like to share their story with you.
Don’t try to finish their sentence, again be patient. Finishing a sentence only hinders or makes them feel worse.
People who stutter are just like you and me – the only difference is they stutter. Even I, someone who does not stutter, fears talking in front of crowds as a lot of us do. However, my wife, who does stutter, does a much better job speaking in front of crowds than I do.
Don’t get frustrated when someone who stutters is trying to finish a sentence, believe me, they are frustrated enough already!
People who stutter make great friends!
The only thing I would like to add to this is – as you listen to the stutterer struggle to speak, do not turn away. Practice your active listening skills. Look the person in the eyes and listen intently. Anonymous made a good point when he said, “people who stutter make great friends!” People who stutter are good listeners, and we value our friends.
May 19, 2011
I believe any parent of a teen will agree that there is a big difference between a child and a teenager. The way you help teens who stutter will also be different, although there are a few similarities. By the time puberty has arrived, peer pressure has taken hold and self-awareness is maturing. With stuttering, these can bring a most uncomfortable mix.
When I became a teen I tried to avoid talking whenever possible. Stuttering worked to diminish my self-esteem. Kids can be cruel. A common misconception thrived among my classmates: “Stutterers are stupid.” My silence didn’t help to reverse that idea.
Some of these tips are similar to those in a previous blog entry. Please note, these tips are in no particular order, and they all apply to both teens and adults.
Study – One of the first things to do is simply learn about stuttering. Proper study will help to arm both you and your teen to face this challenge head-on. You can receive plenty of FREE quality material from the National Stuttering Association. You can also find other helpful resources on my blog entry entitled, Resources for Stuttering Education.
Talk With Your Teen – To the extent that your teen is comfortable, discuss stuttering and how it makes him feel. Stuttering affects different people in different ways. To best help your teen, you need to understand how stuttering affects him/her personally. Human nature draws people into the accepted norm. Stuttering is not considered ‘normal’ so your teen may certainly be feeling some strong emotions, though this may not be evident.
Stuttering seriously affected my self-esteem during my adolescent years. I was a good kid. Followed the rules – at home and school. Dreamed big dreams – inside my head. However, I was not always among the happiest or most secure. I was mocked and called, shall I say, unflattering names throughout junior high and senior high school because of my stammering words and because I was so quiet. So very quiet. It’s easier to be quiet when so many words get stuck in your throat and then explode into staccato sounds. The old childhood rhyme of “Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words will never hurt me.” is so far from truth. You see, “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can break your heart.”
Initiate conversation with your son or daughter. (Long car rides work well in this situation. No need for direct eye contact. Just a simple conversation on the way to somewhere often leads to the most honest and revealing moments between a parent and child.) And remember, no matter how long it takes for them to form a word or get through a sentence, give them time. Keep silent. Let them relax and began to talk. Then share in the biggest gift of all….LISTEN!
Seek Professional Help – The help of a licensed speech language pathologist (SLP) is also strongly encouraged. Your insurance may allow for this service. If you need help finding a SLP contact the National Stuttering Association and they can assist you with finding one in your area.
Your child’s school district should have SLPs on staff. You’re paying local taxes. Check with the school office personnel, a guidance counselor, or a classroom teacher to see if your child can be seen at school.
Let Go – As hard as it may be, do not “baby” your teen. He needs to take ownership of his own speech. For many people, completing a stutterer’s sentence comes naturally. As parents we offer to order for them at restaurants. These seem to be the “compassionate” things to do. These loving acts are actually hurting, rather than helping. The stutterer has to take ownership and learn how to work with this challenge himself. Allowing him to take charge will free him to live a fuller and more productive life.
Listen Patiently – Oh, wait, did I already mention this? The advice is universal and worth repeating. Allow the stutterer to finish what he is saying on his own. Do not tell him to stop and start over. Many parents, out of love and concern, will give this advice, or will say to stop and take a breath. This advice only serves to add more anxiety and often make matters worse.
I remember my parents, other family members, and friends giving me this same advice. I knew at the time they were only trying to help, but in reality it only served to make me more anxious, which caused to exacerbate the stutter. What would have helped more would have been allowing me to stutter through my statement and to support me through it.
Model Good Communication – Very important and very helpful! As a stutterer myself, I know how beneficial this is. Practice an easy, smooth and relaxed speech. If you speak in a rushed fashion, your teen may learn that same practice and make his speech worse. If you speak in a smooth and relaxed way, he will hear it and internalize it. This in turn will allow your teen to experience less tension as he or she speaks.
Find A Local NSA Chapter – I never thought I would join a “support group” until a friend gave my name to a SLP who was organizing a new NSA chapter in my area. Out of respect to my friend I gave it a try. I am glad I did. We support each other in various ways. There are many things I like about our chapter: We can speak freely without judgement. We can interact without awkwardness. We can share stories about our ‘stuttering’ moments. We can each have a voice. There’s more, but, it all comes down to the fact that you must try it yourself. Go to WeStutter.org and search the list of great adult chapters and TWiST chapters (Teens Who STutter) near you. The more you put into it, the more you will get out of it.
March 4, 2011
This is the first installment in a short series on how family can help a stutterer.
Calm your heart – As a general rule, children will start to stammer between the ages of two to six. So, it is normal for children to have a stammer between these ages and most will outgrow it within just a couple of years.
Normal dysfluencies include inserting words like “um,” “like,” or “uh.” The child may repeat words or phrases, or hesitate while thinking of what to say. Remember, children at this age are still learning the language and how it works.
Stuttering, though it takes different forms, usually characterized by dysfluencies in which parts of a word is disrupted. For example, a stutterer may repeat a part of a word (b-b-b-b-book) or prolong a sound (sssssssssing). Sometimes a stutter may manifest itself by the inability to produce a sound. Any of these may be accompanied by other physical signs, such as rapid blinking, hitting oneself, holding their breath, facial contortions. All of this can, understandably, be a scary time for the family.
If you think your child may have the onset of stuttering here are a few things you should do:
1. Seek professional help – the the help of a licensed speech pathologist. Your insurance should allow for this service. If your child is in school, the school system will likely have one available.
2. Learn about stuttering – As Saturday morning TV so boldly states, “Knowledge is Power!” and contrary to popular opinion, ignorance is NOT bliss! You can better help your child if you study the subject at hand. You can receive plenty of FREE quality material from the National Stuttering Association. They will not put you on a mailing list or sell your information to third parties. You can find other helpful sources on my blog entry entitled, Resources for Stuttering Education.
3. Do NOT call attention to the stutter! – Most professional agree on this point. Chances are the child does not realize anything is wrong. At this age just wait unless he asks, then explain it to him honestly.
4. Respond to the stuttering in an open, supportive way – Once your child is aware that he is different, or stuttering, be open and honest about it. Support your child in a positive way. All children have difficulties with certain skills. Every week I help several children who have difficulties with math, English, and spelling. Some have challenges with social skills. Your child may have a problem speaking. I encourage you to treat the issue with the same kind of love and concern as you would any other challenging skill.
5. Listen patiently – Allow the child to finish what he is saying on his own. Do not tell him to stop and start over. Many parents will, out of love and concern, tell their child to stop and start over, or stop and take a breath. This advice only serves to add more anxiety and make matters worse.
6. Model good communication – Very important and very helpful! As a stutterer myself, I know how beneficial this is. Whether you realize it or not, everything you do serves as a model for your child. Even when you think your child is not watching – you are teaching behaviour. Practice an easy, smooth and relaxed speech. If you speak in a rushed fashion, your child will learn that and make his speech worse. If you speak in a smooth and relaxed way, he will learn that and it can help your child to experience less tension as he speaks.
February 25, 2011
OK, Look, I have fought it for a long time myself. My wife told me I should do it and I should have listened to her. But recently, I was speaking to a speech pathologist friend who laid it out in terms with which I could relate. My goal today is to pass on that same favour. Therefore, this blog entry is directed primarily toward my fellow stutterers.
My lovely wife Sharon, has encouraged me for a long time to inform the person whom I am calling that I am a person who stutters. I fought it for a couple reasons: 1. It would be embarassing, 2. When I stutter, they will figure it out – right? So, what’s the point? Well, here’s the point . . .
I am a member of a local chapter of the National Stuttering Association. Most of my fellow members, including myself, have never met another person outside of our family who stutters. So, if WE have never met another, how could we expect that the person to whom we are speaking has met one? About 1% of the world’s adult population stutters. Which means that there is a 99% chance that the person on the other end of the phone has never been exposed to stuttering. You may think, “Well, what if I don’t stutter?” I ask you, do you really think that’s a reality? C’mon, I’m a stutterer myself. I am 51 years old, and my stutter has eased up quite a bit over the years. While I still hope that to be true every time I pick up the phone, even I don’t believe it.
Now, put yourself in the shoes of a person who has never been exposed to a person who stutters. The phone rings and you pick it up and the person on the other end introduces himself, “Hello, I am Mm—mm–MARK (it bursts forth as if fired from a cannon) R–rrr–” At this point imagine what you may be thinking. Is the caller having a seizure? Is this a prank call? You don’t have time for this foolishness!
This holds true for talking to people face to face as well. I would advise this especially if you are interviewing for a job. Imagine speaking to an individual and not knowing they stutter, never being exposed to a stutterer, and all of a sudden seeing their face contort or seeing them seemingly have a fit. You may wonder if you need to call 911.
By not informing the hearer, I have experienced various responses. People have hung up on me. I’ve been told we had a bad telephone connection. In person, some didn’t know if they should laugh or show concern. I have received face contortions worse than mine from people who didn’t know what was happening.
Dear fellow stutterer, I have stammered for over 40 years, I am writing this to myself as much as I am to you. I am promising myself, my wife and YOU that I am going to practice what I have encouraged you to do in this blog entry.
I urge you, when speaking to a new person on the phone or in person, to begin the conversation with a simple statement such as, “I am a person who stutters. Please have patience as I speak with you.” You may wish to practice this with your spouse, sibling, or an understanding friend.
Be bold, my friend.